MLSE Foundation and City of Toronto to Provide Free Outdoor Programs for Youth in Toronto

by
The MLSE Foundation Team
July 23, 2020

Mayor John Tory joined by Councillor Anthony Perruzza (Ward 7 Humber River- Black Creek) and Tanya Mruck, Executive Director of MLSE Foundation and MLSE LaunchPad, and City recreation staff launched two new outdoor recreation initiatives for Toronto children and youth. ParksPlayTO and Summer in the 6IX will engage Toronto youth, children and their families and help animate up to 100 local Toronto parks and outdoor spaces this summer.

Beginning Monday, July 20, ParksPlayTO will offer free drop-in and activity-based, recreation programming Monday to Friday each week at multiple locations. ParksPlayTO will offer activities such as nature exploring, gardening, active games, arts and crafts, family fitness, story-telling and music circles for children and their caregivers. Any child age 12 and under accompanied by a caregiver age 18 or older can participate in ParksPlayTO. Caregivers can bring up to four children and must remain at the park to participate in the program. ParksPlayTO morning sessions will begin at 9:15 a.m. and afternoon sessions will begin at 1:30 p.m.

Summer in the 6IX, which will also begin on Monday, is a free program designed for Toronto youth, aged 13 to 24, offering opportunities to drop in, meet up with friends and participate in fun, themed activities. Summer in the 6IX will offer a range of programming including dance, fitness, ecology and sports as well as leadership, employment, arts and media. Summer in the 6IX will be available to all Toronto youth at a variety of Toronto parks. There will be three sessions offered a day at multiple locations across the city seven days a week.

This year has been especially challenging for children and youth. The City and MLSE Foundation want to help Toronto children and youth recognize and reach their potential through these two new initiatives. MLSE LaunchPad coaches, alongside City recreation staff, will offer a variety of sport skills workshops in basketball, soccer, football and ball hockey. The workshops will provide a range of instructional and recreational activities that encourage skill development.

These two new programs were developed alongside Toronto Public Health with a strong focus on health and safety. Programming is designed for participants to maintain physical distance from other individuals and groups. Equipment will be sanitized between uses, or individual supplies will be provided. Staff will conduct a verbal health screening with each participant prior to the program start and collect caregiver or participant contact information. This information will be collected for Toronto Public Health, if COVID-19 contact tracing is required.

"Over the past few weeks we have been working hard to find new programs to get kids and youth outside to enjoy the summer months. ParksPlayTO and Summer in the 6ix will provide much needed social interaction and physical activity for kids and youth across the city. The development of these programs is a great example of how quickly we can adapt to this new normal and create new services that will meet the needs of Torontonians. I want to thank City staff at Parks, Forestry & Recreation and MLSE for helping us bring these programs to almost 100 parks in Toronto."

- Mayor John Tory

"During these challenging times, our primary goal to improve the lives of youth remains the same. As professional sports begin to return to play, we are committed to bringing sport programs back to communities in an accessible, safe and fun way. Through this partnership and our trained coaches, ParksPlayTO and Summer in the 6IX will reach hundreds of youth across Toronto with opportunities to get outside and get moving in a structured format."

- Tanya Mruck, Executive Director, MLSE Foundation and MLSE LaunchPad

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